In an effort to respond to ongoing protests in Ferguson, Mo., over police violence against Blacks, the White House on Monday announced several reforms, including plans to overhaul a federal program that provides police with military equipment.
“Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect,” states a White House news release.
The statement comes after President Barack Obama attended a series of meetings Monday to address the rising mistrust between law enforcement and minority groups. The proposal, in part, calls for the development of a uniform policy in the transfer of military-style vehicles and equipment.
Concern arose last summer about the federal program after heavy military vehicles and gear appeared in Ferguson amid protests against the Aug. 9 shooting of unarmed Michael Brown, 18, by police officer Darren Wilson. Fiery protests erupted again last week after a grand jury failed to indict Wilson in the shooting that has exposed a deep racial chasm in America.
President Obama also proposed a three-year, $263 million investment package that will increase use of body-worn cameras among officers, expand training for law enforcement agencies, add more resources for police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where the U.S. Department of Justice facilitates community and local engagement, the statement reads.
As part of this initiative, a new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program would provide a 50 percent match to States/localities who purchase body worn cameras and requisite storage. Overall, the proposed $75 million investment over three years could help purchase 50,000 body worn cameras. The initiative as a whole will help the federal government’s efforts to be a full partner with state and local LEAs in order to build and sustain trust between communities and those who serve and protect these communities.
“As the nation has observed, trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities,” the statement reads.